File-based camcorders from various manufacturers record video and audio into files of specific formats organized within specific directory structures. These formats include Panasonic P2 camcorders, Sony XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX camcorders, Sony CF-based HDV camcorders, and AVCHD camcorders.
Camcorders recording in any of these formats typically record to hard disks, optical media, or flash memory media, not to videotape. These camcorders and formats are therefore called file-based, or tapeless, rather than tape-based.
The video and audio from a file-based camcorder are already contained in digital files. No capture or digitizing step is necessary to bring them into Premiere Pro. Reading the data from the recording media and converting it to a format that can be used in a project is instead called ingest. Premiere Pro ingests files in any of these file-based formats from any of their media.
Adobe provides workflow guides for P2, RED, XDCAM, AVCCAM, and DSLR cameras and footage on the Adobe website.
You can find the video files from XDCAM HD camcorders in the CLIP folder, written in the MXF format. XDCAM EX camcorders write MP4 files into a folder named BPAV.
For information about the XDCAM format, see this PDF document on the Sony website.
AVCHD video files are in the STREAM folder. For more information about the AVCHD format, see the AVCHD website
A P2 card is a solid-state memory device that plugs into the PCMCIA slot of a Panasonic P2 video camera, such as the AG-HVX200. The digital video and audio data from the video camera is recorded onto the card in a structured, codec-independent format known as MXF (Media eXchange Format). Specifically, Premiere Pro supports the Panasonic Op-Atom variant of MXF, with video in DV, DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, DVCPRO HD, or AVC-I formats. A clip is in the P2 format if its audio and video are contained in Panasonic Op-Atom MXF files. These files are located in a specific file structure.
The root of the P2 file structure is a CONTENTS folder. Each essence item (an item of video or audio) is contained in a separate MXF wrapper file. The video MXF files are in the VIDEO subfolder, and the audio MXF files are in the AUDIO subfolder. XML files in the CLIP subfolder contain the associations between essence files and the metadata associated with them.
Premiere Pro does not support proxies recorded by some Panasonic P2 camcorders in P2 card PROXY folders.
For your computer to read P2 cards, it needs the appropriate driver, which you can download from the Panasonic website. Panasonic also provides the P2 Viewer application, with which you can browse and play media stored on a P2 card.
To use certain features with P2 files, you first change the file properties from read only to read and write. For example, to change the timecode metadata of a clip using the Timecode dialog box, you first set the file properties to read and write. Use the operating system file explorer to change file properties.
Avid editing systems capture footage to MXF files, generally into a folder called Avid Media files, with audio captured into discreet files separate from the video files. When you import Avid video files, Premiere Pro automatically imports their associated audio files. However, it is simpler to import Avid project files, in Advanced Authoring Format (AAF), than to identify and import individual Avid MXF video files.
DVD camcorders and DVD recorders capture video and audio into MPEG-encoded VOB files. VOB files are written into a VIDEO_TS folder. Optionally, ancillary audio files may be written into an AUDIO_TS folder.
Premiere Pro and Premiere Elements, do not import or decrypt encrypted DVD files.
You can import assets into Premiere Pro directly from tapeless media. However, it is more efficient to transfer tapeless media contents to a hard disk before importing. Also, playback performance is much better from a dedicated internal hard drive or RAID than from a camera or memory card reader. Larger icons are available to preview clips in the Media Browser. You can scrub, and hover scrub to preview your footage more easily before importing it. For details, see Working in Icon view.
Use the Media Browser, instead of File > Import, to import files from tapeless sources. The Media Browser assembles the relevant files into coherent clips, and does not import irrelevant non-media files sometimes found in the folders of tapeless media.
You can drag selected assets directly into the Project panel from the Media Browser. You can also select assets, and then choose File > Import from Media Browser, or right-click and then choose Import from the context menu.
The default workspace has the Project panel and the Media Browser docked into the same panel. It is not apparent that you can drag clips into the Project panel in this workspace configuration, but you can. To import assets into the Project panel from the Media Browser, select the clips you wish to import, and then drag them to the Project tab. The assets will then be imported.
(Optional) Transfer the entire contents of one or more P2 cards, Sony Compact Flash cards, XDCAM media, XDCAM EX SxS cards, hard disk camcorders, DVDs, or AVCHD media to a hard disk. For information about transferring these media, see About transferring files.
For XDCAM EX, copy the entire BPAV folder and its contents, not just one MP4 file at a time.
The Media Browser shows a thumbnail or icon (depending on the format) and shot name for each shot in the folder. The Media Browser automatically aggregates spanned clips and shot metadata from the subfolders into single clips for any of these formats. The Media Browser shows different sets of metadata for different formats.
When a shot or take is recorded requiring more than the file size limit of a medium, a file-based camcorder starts another file, and continues recording the shot to that file without interruption. This is referred to as clip spanning because the shot spans more than one file or clip. Similarly, a file-based camcorder sometimes spans a shot across clips on different cards or disks, if the camcorder has more than one card or disk loaded. It records the shot until it runs out of room on the first medium, then starts a new file on the next medium with available space, and continues recording the shot to it. Although a single shot or take can be recorded to a group of multiple spanned clips, it is designed to be treated as a single clip.
For P2 and XDCAM EX, Premiere Pro imports all of the spanned clips within a single shot or take as a single clip. It will import all the clips within a shot on a card when you select any one of them, provided none of the spanned clips is missing and the relevant XML is present. When one or more spanned clips are missing from a shot, Premiere Pro will import one or more of them depending on where the missing clips fall within the shot.
To import a group of spanned clips, select one of them to import all of them. If you select more than one spanned clip, you will import duplicates of the whole group of spanned clips as duplicate clips in the Project panel.
If the group of spanned clips itself spans two P2 or XDCAM EX cards, copy the full directory trees from them both to same-level folders on the hard disk before importing. For P2 media only, you can alternatively import clips spanning two P2 cards if both cards are simultaneously mounted to your computer.
Colin Brougham explains how Premiere Pro works natively with tapeless media (no transcoding) in this article on the ProVideo Coalition website.